Maternal Low-protein Diet Alters Ovarian Expression of Folliculogenic and Steroidogenic Genes and Their Regulatory MicroRNAs in Neonatal Piglets

  • Sui, Shiyan (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Jia, Yimin (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • He, Bin (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Li, Runsheng (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Li, Xian (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Cai, Demin (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Song, Haogang (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University) ;
  • Zhang, Rongkui (Shanghai Farm of Bright Food (Group) Co., Ltd.) ;
  • Zhao, Ruqian (Key Laboratory of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry, Ministry of Agriculture, Nanjing Agricultural University)
  • Received : 2014.05.08
  • Accepted : 2014.08.23
  • Published : 2014.12.01


Maternal malnutrition during pregnancy may give rise to female offspring with disrupted ovary functions in adult age. Neonatal ovary development predisposes adult ovary function, yet the effect of maternal nutrition on the neonatal ovary has not been described. Therefore, here we show the impact of maternal protein restriction on the expression of folliculogenic and steroidogenic genes, their regulatory microRNAs and promoter DNA methylation in the ovary of neonatal piglets. Sows were fed either standard-protein (SP, 15% crude protein) or low-protein (LP, 7.5% crude protein) diets throughout gestation. Female piglets born to LP sows showed significantly decreased ovary weight relative to body weight (p<0.05) at birth, which was accompanied with an increased serum estradiol level (p<0.05). The LP piglets demonstrated higher ratio of bcl-2 associated X protein/B cell lymphoma/leukemia-2 mRNA (p<0.01), which was associated with up-regulated mRNA expression of bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4) (p<0.05) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) (p<0.05). The steroidogenic gene, cytochrome P450 aromatase (CYP19A1) was significantly down-regulated (p<0.05) in LP piglets. The alterations in ovarian gene expression were associated with a significant down-regulation of follicle-stimulating hormone receptor mRNA expression (p<0.05) in LP piglets. Moreover, three microRNAs, including miR-423-5p targeting both CYP19A1 and PCNA, miR-378 targeting CYP19A1 and miR-210 targeting BMP4, were significantly down-regulated (p<0.05) in the ovary of LP piglets. These results suggest that microRNAs are involved in mediating the effect of maternal protein restriction on ovarian function through regulating the expression of folliculogenic and steroidogenic genes in newborn piglets.


Folliculogenesis;Steroidogenesis;Maternal Dietary Protein;MicroRNA;Ovary;Neonatal Piglet


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